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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and frightening in equal turns
I bought this book out of curiosity, wondering how the author would attempt to reconcile herself to her rather dubious past, I quickly discovered that she was to make no such attempt whatsoever. She happily relates attendance at Nazi rallies and cosy fireside chats with Hitler, presenting Fascism as a perfectly respectable political opinion, the violence at Moseley's...
Published on 1 Feb 2003 by Scholastica

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Contrasts indeed
Having read quite a bit about the Mitfords and Diana Mosley I was not very surprised by my overall reaction to this Autobiography. I can't help wondering if the amazing privileges and there for complete and utter contrast to most peoples lives isn't really the true meaning of the title!
Every time that the atrocities against the Jews are talked about Mosley counter...
Published on 21 Jan 2009 by Barny J


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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and frightening in equal turns, 1 Feb 2003
I bought this book out of curiosity, wondering how the author would attempt to reconcile herself to her rather dubious past, I quickly discovered that she was to make no such attempt whatsoever. She happily relates attendance at Nazi rallies and cosy fireside chats with Hitler, presenting Fascism as a perfectly respectable political opinion, the violence at Moseley's rallies described as being caused entirely by communist agitators.
She comes across as frightfully upper class, and gives lavish descriptions of the interior decor of every house she ever lived in - the phrase "Louis XVI furniture" occurs with astonishing regularity! This is in sharp contrast to her imprisonment - for three years, without any trial or judgement -in the atmospherically described dark and squalid Holloway.
The book is made fascinating, not only by the writer's unashamedly outrageous opinions, but also by the intriguing cast of characters that pass through it: her sister Unity, a stronger Fascist than Diana, who attempted suicide when England declared war on Germany, then spent the rest of her short life searching, it seems in vain, for spiritual truth - Winston Churchill, described throughout as "Cousin Winston" - Evelyn Waugh, who dedicates a book to her - Magda Goebbels, whom Diana states did the right thing by killing herself and her children - and, of course, Mosley himself, referred to throughout by Diana as simply "M", and who remains, through to the last page, strangely enigmatic.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life That Created Polarized Opinions, 5 Jan 2012
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"After our four months away we had felt ready to face the Winter and the myriad trivial annoyances inseparable from life in England under a Labour government"

With such a sentence an individual, however brave, humane, well-mannered and considerate, can polarize his or her reading public. With Diana Mosley, however, the dye was in all probability already cast as her reputation had preceded her even though that might have been largely tarnished in the public mind by a hostile press.

I shall attempt to confine my review to the book and not extend any criticism to the author herself. With an autobiography this is not always self-evident. I personally found this book extremely interesting and informative while at the same time felt that there was a certain lack of cohesive planning although the work was chronological enough.

There are two central things in her life she tries to justify in this book - one private and one political. The former is her decision to leave her first husband Bryan Guinness by whom she has already two young children to live with a married man with three children twelve years her senior. The latter concerns her belief that the British Union of Fascists were patriots who would in the last resort fight against Germany and everything that Hitler stood for.

When her affair became known there is no doubt that she was aware of shocking not only her parents that she loved dearly but also very nearly all her close friends. That she persisted, that Bryan behaved like a gentleman, and that they could agree on all important matters for the children's sake showed great maturity on both sides. Although Diana adds a short chapter "Flashback" at the end of this reprint she is still quite reticent in giving the full story. What is clear is that Cimmie, Sir Oswald Mosley's wife, conveniently died of peritonitis after being operated for acute apendicitis, but that Diana had imagined she could have continued being M's mistress because his wife was already quite used to his infidelity. How long this unsatisfactory situation could have pleased Diana is a matter for speculation and entails some doubt about her giving us a true version of her feelings.

If there are doubts about this, there is perhaps even more reason to doubt her when she insists that Mosley's supporters would have loyally fought against the Germans in the war. After all the overtures and friendships made with Nazi leadership in the years preceding the outbreak it is disingenious to pretend that the British Union of Fascists would not have been the first to lay down their arms and help achieve a kind of settlement. Of course this is pure speculation but the fear of this potential disgrace is why the name of Mosley even today is held in eschew.

Don't let this put you off reading this fascinating book. Diana is elitist, but is also warm and witty, a lover of dogs and a good mother to her children, who has met some of the most interesting personalities on the social circuit and political stage of the 20th century. In other domains her testimony shines through, as clear as a mountain stream.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diana - the immortal fascist, 7 May 2002
By A Customer
Lady Mosley - aristocrat, beauty, wit, friend of Hitler and undiluted fascist: a mix that still captivates and fascinates many sixty two years after she was imprisoned with her husband, the Britsh Union of Fascists leader, Sir Oswald, in 1940. This book shows her to be more than an echo of another era. She is still remarkably unrepentant and whatever one thinks about her extraordinary politcs (''such a pity that the jews didn't all go to Madagscar or somewhere,'' she tell us breezily) Diana Mosley remains a strangely compelling figure. Plainly such extremism, one could argue, is at least refreshingly honest, although it must be added, more than a little chilling too.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Diana Mitford: Interesting Lady, 7 April 2013
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
I couldn't put this book down, she writes very modestly about herself and obviously she is a very intelligent woman who moved in all the right circles as one of her class would do. Her story paces along - lots of lovely anecdotal tit-bits about her famous family and all the people she rubbed shoulders with. I didn't realise she was imprisoned during the war without trial, although her time couldn't have been easy she seemed to cope with the harshness of prison life very well and she certainly wasn't embittered by her experience. She talks adoringly about Mosley who was the love of her life and her sister Unity's sad demise. There is a slightly eccentric Britishness about the family - something that is now long gone - imagine taking your shetland pony into your carriage on a train today! All good stuff for anyone who enjoys social history
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking., 22 May 2014
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
I bought this thinking I wasn't going to like Diana, but I did, can't say I agreed with everything she said and did, but I did like her, she was interesting vibrant and honest. I think it does us good to read such things, being made to think can never be a bad thing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read, 18 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
Have always been fascinated by the life and times of the Mitford sisters and found this biography to be totally engrossing.
I alternated between enthrallment and repulsion during this read but was never bored!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating on several levels, 24 Feb 2014
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
I bought this for the book by Diana Mitford but was ultimately most interested in the book by Diana Mosley.

Those who like all the inter-war upper class stuff, Mitfords and Coopers and Sitwells and their artistic friends, will enjoy this as much as any of the others. "Farve" comes out as by no means the near maniac portrayed as Uncle Matthew, or as Lord Redesdale by other writers; a man's man, he is still crushed and hurt when nobody likes the new house he has built to please them, and he is almost as concerned about 'the good furniture' as someone who had to save up to buy it.

On the Mosley aspect, she makes a lot of points which may put things in a new light. I never had any problem with Regulation 18B before, but I now wonder how right it was to inter people for opinions not so different from, say, Lord Halifax, who also didn't want to see the empire thrown away on someone else's quarrel - a view also advanced by a number of revisionist historians today. Even if it was right - and I still believe we did right to fight Hitler, whatever the cost - keeping them locked up for four years, long after a fifth column was any real concern, was surely excessive. It is also unsettling to read of the likes of Frank Pakenham (Lord Longford) turning up to Mosley meetings armed with knuckledusters - the thuggery wasn't all one way.

I had not been aware that in the 50s Mosley became an arch pro European - make of that what one may.

The only small negative I have is that Diana's prose is not as good as Nancy's or the Duchess of Devonshire's; there are too many short, staccato sentences and organization is sometimes rather lacking. However, this gets less noticeable as the book goes on, and it is never that bad. I think I read it in two days and enjoyed every minute of it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars diana mitford, 12 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
fantastic and compelling read,would recommened to everyone,a great insight to a very privelleged way of life and what she overcame through her life.a great read
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Life of Contrasts, 8 Jan 2014
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
I have always been intrigued by the Mitford family but have only recently read books by Nancy Mitford. For people of this era they are very well read and educated in spite of being educated generally at home. It has brought out the closeness of the siblings which does not come out in other books about the family. Really enjoyed it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating life., 10 Oct 2013
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This review is from: A Life of Contrasts: The Autobiography (Kindle Edition)
Contrasts in life are certainly revealed here.

Speaking for myself I find the descriptions of such a varied life very rewarding.
I knew nothing much about Oswald Mosley before reading this although I knew OF him even as a child in the 1930s.
Naturally this was a sympathetic portrait, by his widow, but I thought it a truthful one.
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